HSBC said on Tuesday that it has completed the first RMB-denominated blockchain letter of credit transaction.
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Like many competitors, HSBC has been seeking to use digital ledger technology to streamline traditional paper and bureaucratic financing transactions.
As the first letter of credit transaction using the Renminbi, it marks the use of Voltron, a blockchain trade financing platform developed by eight banks including BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC.
To date, the platform transactions have been applied primarily to individual pilot cases. However, Ajay Sharma, head of global trade and accounts receivable financing at HSBC Asia Pacific, said the platform is making progress toward a comprehensive goal that could become a business model acceptable to banks. He said:
We hope to understand the cost of using Voltron at the end of this year, perhaps before the first quarter of next year. By then, many banks that are currently on the sidelines will make a decision. We hope to reduce the unit cost of trading and increase the speed of trading through this technology.
HSBC quoted SWIFT data as saying that in 2018 alone, there were 1.2 million letters of credit worth $750 billion (banks issued to guarantee the purchase of certificates from sellers) issued inside and outside China.
The transaction involves Hong Kong-based MTC Electronic exporting a number of liquid crystal display parts and panels to its parent company, Shenzhen Zhaochi Co., Ltd. HSBC said that the transaction of electronic documents is completed within 24 hours, while traditional paper documents usually take 5 to 10 days.
In May last year, HSBC announced the completion of the world's first letter of credit transaction using blockchain technology. In April this year, it announced the completion of the first blockchain cross-border letter of credit transaction in mainland China.